$6 Million Jury Verdict for Truck Driver Whose Employer Insisted He Make Deliveries in Dangerous Weather
Once again we have a large jury verdict for an employee for wrongful termination, retaliation, and violations of the California Labor Code. This time, the employee-truck driver was forced to make deliveries in dangerous weather conditions, despite his repeated complaints to the employer, and was later asked to return to work even though he had told his employer that he had been drinking. The employee-driver was fired for not returning to work. Generally, under the California Labor Code Sections 6310 & 6311, an employee cannot be discharged (or otherwise discriminated against) because of the employee’s complaint(s) (whether oral or written) about something that the employee reasonably believed to be illegal or unsafe, or for refusing to perform work that would create a real and apparent hazard to the employee or his or her fellow employees. Under the California Labor Code Section 1102.5, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of the law. In this case, not only the employee repeatedly complained about the dangerous weather conditions, he also advised his employer that he could not return to work after his shift because he was under the influence of alcohol. The employee was allegedly fired because of his refusal to return to work under the influence and presumably for his repeated complaints about not wanting to drive in dangerous conditions, which in the eyes of the jury, amounted to retaliation, wrongful termination, and violations of the Labor Code Sections 6310 & 6311.